Category Archives: religious fundamentalism

The Unenlightenment

File this under “crap with which I will no longer put up”:

“The Principle,” asserts the press release, “will begin an exclusive limited engagement at AMC theaters in Burbank, CA, Orange, CA, and Spokane, WA, on January 23rd, with additional markets opening in the weeks following.” There will also be a screening for critics in Los Angeles Jan. 13.

The release goes on to say, “‘The Principle’ brings to light astonishing new scientific observations challenging the Copernican Principle. The film explores, from all sides, the question of Earth’s station in the universe and whether it could, in fact, have a unique importance. Astonishing results from recent large-scale surveys of our visible Universe disclose surprising evidence of a preferred direction in the cosmos, a so-called ‘Axis of Evil,’ aligned with our supposedly insignificant Earth.”

The Copernican Principle, of course, is the centuries-old scientific discovery that the Earth is not the center of the universe/solar system. And no, I do not have time for this bullshit. I do not have the patience to deal with pseudoscience and conspiracy nonsense any more.

And that goes for the stuff coming from my friends on the left, too. I get a lot of crap from my New Age-y friends making all sorts of ludicrous claims and I simply do not have the patience to deal with this any more. I do not want to hear about climate change denialism by people who know only politics not science, nor do I want to hear about the latest health scam from people who know only New Age bullshit not medicine. I don’t want to hear about how people’s thoughts can change water molecules or that ujjayi breath boosts the immune system or any of the crap peddled by practitioners of ayurvedic medicine.

But back to our film:

The force behind all of this is a man named Robert Sungenis. He’s quite a piece of work. The author of a book titled Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right, Sungenis is angry because the heliocentric model has cast doubt on the authority of the church and its leaders. He has written, “Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world, and governments and academia were subservient to her.” (According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Sungenis is also an anti-Semite who denies the Holocaust.)

Um, AMC? You wouldn’t show The Interview but you will show this? What the hell is wrong with you people? Do you have no standards? None at all?

Also, Kate Mulgrew and the others who were duped into participating in this crank’s propaganda film: learn to Google, you idiots. You’ve just given credibility to a most obscene form of scientific denialism, not to mention endorsed the views of an anti-Semitic crackpot. Slow clap, folks.

The writer and producer of this film is a guy named Rick DeLano who claims years in the film business but his IMDB profile came up with a big fat nothing. However, he claims that negative reaction to his film is all a giant conspiracy. Of course he does. That’s what they all say — even my friends on the left when I tell them the water molecule thing is bullshit. “Oh, that’s just what they want you to think.”

Honestly I am so over this. When did everyone in the world decide that reason was a bad thing and crazy unfounded theories were the truth?

As the story says, “never underestimate the power of slickly-produced propaganda.” How long before this nonsense is taught in our schools?

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Filed under religion, religious fundamentalism, science

Religion Is Dead

That will be the upshot of today’s completely outrageous Hobby Lobby ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court has effectively killed religion.

I know, it looks the opposite, but what have I said here a gazillion, bajillion times, folks? When religion gets forced on people by government or corporations, religion always dies. People don’t want this shit foisted on them. As I’ve said a thousand times before, the surest way to kill off religious belief is to declare a “state religion.” The bigger religion’s role in the secular aspects of life, the more people run away from it.

And in this ruling SCOTUS said some corporations can impose the beliefs of some religions on some employees, effectively legalizing discrimination against women and certain religions. If you’re a company owned by Jehova’s Witnesses, sorry, you have to pay for blood transfusions. No out for Scientologists who object to psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. Christian Scientists who don’t believe in most healthcare at all still have to pony up. But if you’re a Christian fundiegelical who believes completely erroneously and incorrectly that IUDs cause abortions — even though they don’t! — you can refuse to offer a healthcare plan covering that form of birth control to your female employees. That’s what SCOTUS just ruled.

The debate wasn’t even really about the Hobby Lobby peoples’ religious beliefs, it was about their completely erroneous, counter-factual scientific beliefs cloaked in religion:

Hobby Lobby already covered 16 of the 20 methods of contraception mandated under the Affordable Care Act, but it didn’t cover Plan B One-Step, ella (another brand of emergency contraception) and two forms of intrauterine devices because of aforementioned ideologically driven and not medically based ideas about abortion.

“These medications are there to prevent or delay ovulation,” Dr. Petra Casey, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic, told the New York Times in a piece on the science behind emergency contraception. “They don’t act after fertilization.” As the Times noted, emergency contraception like Plan B, ella and the hormonal IUD do not work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb. Instead, these methods of birth control delay ovulation 0r thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, meaning that fertilization never even occurs. That said, when used as a form of emergency contraception, the copper IUD can interrupt implantation, but this still does not mean a pregnancy has occurred.

This ruling was stunningly ham-fisted on so many levels. In a nutshell, in “going narrow” SCOTUS picked a religion — the fundiegelical Christian kind — over the rights of female employees who may not be of that religion, and also over the rights of every other religion out there. This is going to have repercussions, people — and not good ones for the religious folks. It’s gonna get messy, and I think it’s gonna smack religious people on the ass so hard they won’t sit for a month. Stories like this one are going to ripple across the workplace in every state. It’s a ruling that basically legalized gender discrimination and religious discrimination. When it all shakes down it’s not going to be pretty for the people currently doing a happy dance.

In the meantime, folks calling for a Constitutional Convention to repeal corporate personhood just got a little more ammo.

[UPDATE]: ThinkProgress agrees with me.

[UPDATE] 2: Charlie Pierce at Esquire also agrees with me. SCOTUS just perpetrated an act of religious discrimination while professing to do the opposite. WTF is up with that, people?

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Filed under birth control, corporations, healthcare, religious fundamentalism, religious right, Supreme Court, women's rights

Today In Church And State

[UPDATE]:

As of Saturday, June 28, the McKnight campaign signs are gone, but the stuff on the church sign is still there.

—————————————————-

Just saw this on my way home from the grocery store this morning:

Nice Tax-Exempt Status You've Got There. Shame If Anything Happened To It

Nice Tax-Exempt Status You’ve Got There. Shame If Anything Happened To It

Amendment One is an anti-abortion measure. I had to Google this McKnight fellow, but he’s a big-time right-to-lifer.

This church isn’t too far from my house. I’ve always referred to it as the Wingnut Bible Church because their signs are always advertising some wingnutty seminar or program: “End-Times Prophecy,” “Justice Sunday” and crap like that. Every July Fourth they put about a dozen or so ginormous American flags on their property, because Jesus was an American and a Founder and Christian Nation and Shut Up. But I’ve never seen them outright politick like this before.

I’m not a lawyer, definitely not a Constitutional one, but I’m pretty sure the IRS frowns on these kinds of outright political endorsements from tax-exempt churches. Don’t they?

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Filed under abortion, church and state, Nashville, religion, religious fundamentalism, Tennessee

We All Saw This One Coming

Jamie Coots, the snake-handling Pentecostal preacher I wrote about last October, was bitten by a snake yesterday and has died.

What a charlatan and a scam artist. He abused, starved and dehydrated his reptiles to make them more docile, then pretended it was GOD doing a miracle. And along comes NatGeo to sell ads off the spectacle? Sick.

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Filed under animal cruelty, media, religion, religious fundamentalism

Fundie RWNJ Admits Climate Change Is Man-Made

Sorta:

“We’ve made God angry by allowing abortion! Abortion causes climate change!” claims Barton.

Barton claims that we opened the door to losing God’s protection over our environment by supporting abortion which, he says, will lead to just killing everybody anyway.

Progress?

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Filed under abortion, climate change, religious fundamentalism, religious right

This Sounds About Right

Yesterday I caught most of this story on NPR . It appears the reason snake-handling Pentecostal preachers are rarely bitten is not because of the holy spirit but because they systematically abuse and neglect their animals:

“The animals that I’ve seen that have come from religious snake handlers were in bad condition,” says Kristen Wiley, curator of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, a facility in the town of Slade that produces venom and promotes the conservation of snakes. “They did not have water. The cages had been left not cleaned for a pretty long period of time. And the other thing we noticed is there were eight or 10 copperheads in a container that was not very large.”

What’s more, she says there was no fecal material in the container, which indicated the snakes were not being fed. Riley says a snake that may be dehydrated, underweight and sick from close confinement is less likely to strike than a healthy snake. Moreover, the venom it produces is weaker.

She says snake-handling preachers who don’t take care of their snakes are “setting themselves up for a safer encounter during their services when they use a snake that is in bad condition to begin with.”

And then there was this:

In a follow-up call, I asked him how long his snakes usually live.

“Average is probably three to four months,” Coots says.

The Kentucky Reptile Zoo reports that well-cared-for snakes live 10 to 20 years or longer in captivity.

I always thought snake-handling preachers were just egomaniacs trying to call attention to themselves. The snakes — and God — are just props. The fact that they abuse their animals to tilt the odds in their favor doesn’t surprise me a bet.

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Filed under animal cruelty, religion, religious fundamentalism

Fun With Traveling Americans

Laughing at these folks would make me a truly horrible person so instead I’ll just remind this family that God works in really mysterious ways and also has one helluva sense of humor:

PHOENIX — A northern Arizona family that was lost at sea for weeks in an ill-fated attempt to leave the U.S. over what they consider government interference in religion will fly back home Sunday.

Hannah Gastonguay, 26, said Saturday that she and her husband “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” when they took their two small children and her father-in-law and set sail from San Diego for the tiny island nation of Kiribati in May.

But just weeks into their journey, the Gastonguays hit a series of storms that damaged their small boat, leaving them adrift for weeks, unable to make progress. They were eventually picked up by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile where they are resting in a hotel in the port city of San Antonio.

Their flights home were arranged by U.S. Embassy officials, Gastonguay said. The U.S. State Department was not immediately available for comment.

Oh, the irony. I’ll assume the U.S. State Department demanded the Gastonguay family renounce Jesus and become Pastafarians before lifting a finger to help them? No? Huh.

These folks have some pretty whacked ideas:

Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don’t believe in “abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,” she said.

U.S. “churches aren’t their own,” Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.

Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”

The Gastonguays weren’t members of any church, and Hannah Gastonguay said their faith came from reading the Bible and through prayer.

“The Bible is pretty clear,” she said.

We have a state-controlled church? Taxes pay for abortions? Since when?

You know, is this an awesome country or what? You can come up with all sorts of crackpot, crazy ideas that have no basis in reality about how America has failed you and this country will still bail your butt out when you get into trouble.

[UPDATE:]

Meanwhile, y’all picked Kiribati? For realz? Y’all don’t read much, do you?

Running out of options, and water, a nation’s leader enters an end game against climate change. The President of Kiribati urges an orderly evacuation — “migration with dignity”.

So let’s get this straight: some clueless Christians suffering imaginary “persecution” decide to escape to a country that is literally going under water due to climate change and will soon no longer exist. And on their way they hit storm after storm, have to be rescued, and are forced to turn to the country they think oppresses them for help.

God is shouting at you people and her message is Get a fucking clue!

(h/t, friend of the blog Leslie P.)

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Filed under religion, religious fundamentalism, religious right

The Sin Of Sodom

STFU Pat Robertson, you old crank:

Following a story on New York passing marriage equality, Pat Robertson on The 700 Club warned that God will destroy America just like God destroyed Sodom, saying that “there’s never been a civilization ever in history that has embraced homosexuality and turned away from traditional fidelity, traditional marriage, traditional child-rearing, and has survived.”

Perhaps Robertson should open his Bible:

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” — Ezekiel 16:48-50

Arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, haughty, not helping the poor and needy … who does that describe to you?

Rev. William Sloane Coffin pretty much destroyed any religious basis for homophobia in his 1997 sermon, “Homophobia: The Last Respectable Prejudice.” Everyone should stop what they’re doing and read it right now (I’m afraid this transcript is riddled with typos, the sermon itself can be found in Coffin’s 1999 book, The Heart Is A Little To The Left: Essays On Public Morality).

It’s appalling to me that Robertson still has his platform. I see no difference between him and Fred Phelps’ cult.

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Filed under GLBT, Pat Robertson, religious fundamentalism, religious right

>A Neat Twist On Religious Hate

>Hey, boys and girls! The burning of religious texts isn’t just for Korans anymore!

CANTON, N.C. (October 13, 2009)—The Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, N.C. will celebrate Halloween by burning Bibles that aren’t the King James Version, as well as music and books and anything else Pastor Marc Grizzard says is a satanic influence.

Among the authors whose books Grizzard plans to burn are well known ministers Rick Warren and Billy Graham because he says they have occasionally used Bibles other than the King James Version, which is the sole biblical source he considers infallible.

According to the church’s Web site, members will also burn “Satan’s music such as country, rap, rock, pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel, contemporary Christian, jazz, soul (and) oldies.

Nooooo! Not soft and easy music? CCM? Amy Grant?!

Nooooooooo!!!!!!!

Here’s the best part:

During the book burning, according to the Web site, barbecued chicken, fried chicken and “all the sides” will be served.

Hey, this one’s a real barbecue! So bring the kids! It’s gonna be a party!

Honestly, just when I think we’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel of religious intolerance someone crawls out from under a rock somewhere to prove me wrong. Amazing, yes. Grace? Not so much.

(h/t, Jesus’ General)

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Filed under religion, religious fundamentalism

There’s A Cult In The Quiver

Whew. This is gonna be a long one, folks.

Over at Salon I just read about Vyckie Garrison Bennett, a former member of the Quiverfull movement.

Surely by now everyone has heard of Quiverfull, but if not, here’s some background from the Salon piece:

In 1985, homeschooling leader Mary Pride wrote a foundational text for Quiverfull, “The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality.” The book argued that family planning is a slippery slope, creating a “contraceptive mentality” that leads to abortion, and that feminism is incompatible with Christianity. As an antidote, Pride told Christians to reject women’s liberation in exchange for the principles of submissive wifehood and prolific stay-at-home motherhood. The core ideology was a direct contradiction of Roe v. Wade: Women’s bodies and lives did not belong to them, but to God and his plans for Christian revival.

For those women who have left the movement–and some still in it–the Quiverfull lifestyle is grueling,

one of unceasing labor and exhaustion — a near-constant cycle of pregnancy, childbirth and the care of small children — for the women at its center.

I never thought God meant us to have families of eight or 10 or 12, otherwise we’d have litters, like Newscoma’s puppies. God wouldn’t have intelligently designed the human female body to do things like suppress ovulation while breastfeeding. And the notion that Christians can “out-breed” the enemy just doesn’t make any sense; if God gave everyone free will, then square parents are just as likely to have round children as square ones. You just can’t assume your kids are going to grow up to be Fundie true believers.

But that’s just me.

Garrison’s story is compelling because she was one of the leading voices in Quiverfull; under her married name Bennett she wrote articles in movement publications (you can read some here at the Nebraska Family Times). Her family was even named the Nebraska Family Council’s “Family of the Year” in 2003. But behind the facade, the “Godly family” and perfect “Proverbs 31 wife” was crumbling.

Garrison finally left the movement (and her husband) when her eldest daughter attempted suicide. As she observed acidly on her blog:

“I could have kids in the psych ward for a lot less effort.”

Heh.

Equally tragic is the story of Garrison’s fellow Quiverfull apostate, Laura, who blogged her story of being the daughter of a lesbian-feminist couple turned “Proverbs 31 wife.” This strong-willed and independent-minded woman found her way into the movement through a boyfriend who eventually became her husband. Because her parents were lebsians, Laura was instructed to shun them, to “protect her children from them” — their own grandparents.

These stories are not just tragic, they are huge red flags to me. Removing individuals from their support structure — family and friends — and replacing that support with a new one; separating the world into those who have privileged access to an exclusive truth and those who do not; placing a group’s doctrine over and above an individual’s experience; use of overly-simplified, cliche-ridden language and slogans; use of “sacred science” — the idea that if something works for so many in the group it has the authority of “science”; and a cult of confession where one’s testimony is told so often it becomes a well-rehearsed script outlining how lost and sinful the individual was before finding salvation in the group: these are all classic hallmarks of a cult. For those interested, noted researcher Robert J. Lifton warned of this way back in 1981.

I was raised in Los Angeles in the ‘70s and well remember the stories of abusive cults and equally abusive cult “deprogrammers.” When I was a kid you couldn’t walk through Westwood Village (our version of the shopping mall back then) without being accosted by Moonies, Jews for Jesus, Hare Krishnas (we called them “hairless Krishnas” because of their shaved heads), Synanon and est adherents, you name it.

I well remember front-page stories about Scientologists infiltrating the FBI and members of Synanon placing a rattlesnake in the mailbox of an attorney representing an ex-member of the group.

Since then we’ve stopped talking about cults and thought-control techniques in this country. It’s almost become a quaint vestige of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, as if the cult movement is something we don’t need to worry about anymore. And cults thrive under this kind of ignorance.

Cults are everywhere around us, disguised as religions, self-help groups, economic groups and even political groups. Anyone is susceptible to the lure of a cult–anyone. You don’t have to be from a “certain kind of family” or a typical “lost soul” to be susceptible. You don’t have to live on a compound in the countryside to be in a cult. Any group that demands the subjection of individual will and personal identity to group will and group identity is a cult. Any group that does not allow followers to question the group’s belief system should be approached with caution.

Let’s quit pretending that cults are something from our past. Our country is going through hard times, people are searching for answers to questions which may have none. Absolutism and certainty are seductive, but most of the time they are false concepts. It goes against human nature to be comfortable with the gray, to be content with flux and instability, and this is why cults thrive. But cults destroy families; left to their own devices, they can give rise to massive totalitarian movements. History proves this.

It’s time we got comfortable with the words “cult” and “thought control” again. We live in a mass-media age, and the tools of exploitation have expanded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.

I’m not meaning to knock religion here, and not all religions are cults. Stories like Vyckie Garrison’s are warnings of a larger problem at play. As the country splinters ever further into ideological sub-groups, isolated and insulated through technology, we put ourselves at risk.

Make of that what you will.

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Filed under Christian Right, cults, culture wars, feminism, religious fundamentalism